Steyn does it again as Boks win Lions series
MATCH REPORT: History repeated itself as Morne Steyn kicked a late penalty to give South Africa a 19-16 win over the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday and a 2-1 series triumph.
In 2009, Steyn landed a late penalty from his own half to give the Springboks an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series they also won 2-1.
Now 37, Steyn replaced flyhalf Handre Pollard with 15 minutes remaining and almost immediately slotted a penalty to give the Rugby World Cup winners a 16-13 advantage.
Rival flyhalf Finn Russell, an early replacement for the injured Dan Biggar, levelled with his third penalty of the match five minutes from time.
Then, with one minute remaining in a tense tussle, the Springboks were awarded another penalty and Steyn calmly scored to edge the hosts ahead again.
The drama was not over, though, as the Lions were awarded a scrum inside South African territory, offering them a chance to snatch a dramatic victory.
However, it was not to be as the tourists were penalised at the set piece, Steyn booted the ball into touch and French referee Mathieu Raynal signalled the end of the match.
It was the first appearance by Steyn in the green and gold jersey since 2016 and he raised his Test points total to 742 from 67 caps.
The Lions opted to kick for touch three times in the first half and once in the second when awarded penalties in kickable positions.
They scored the first time after winning the line-out, but failed to secure points on the other three occasions, leading to a ninth series loss in 14 attempts against South Africa.
“It was crazy to have a game this big and to have an empty stadium. But it does not take away from what this team has done,” said Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) August 7, 2021
“It has been a very tough series. We all wanted it. We know how much it means to the country. Both teams gave it everything they had.”
South Africa were severely hampered by not being able to play for 19 months due to the coronavirus pandemic after winning the World Cup in Japan.
They began the series against the Lions having played just one warm-up match, which they won comfortably against second-tier opponents Georgia.
It was an historic series victory as no team has succeeded in the 130-year rivalry between South Africa and the Lions after losing the first Test.
The Springboks went down 17-22 in the opener this time and hit back with a 27-9 triumph last weekend to level a series played behind closed doors because of an ongoing third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa.
Wing Cheslie Kolbe scored the lone home try after evading fullback Liam Williams and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Pollard converted to put the home team 13-10 ahead after trailing by seven points at half-time.
The rest of the Springbok points came from four penalties with Pollard, who finished the match on 502 Test points after missing two shots at goal, and Steyn slotting two each.
Hooker Ken Owens claimed a pushover try for the Lions and Russell, kept out of the team by an ankle injury since July 7, contributed 11 points from a conversion and three penalties.
“We are really disappointed. We gave away a couple of silly penalties towards the end,” said Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones, who made a remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury to play in all three Tests.
“But to put it into perspective, we are fortunate to be here, to represent the Lions and play the sport we love.
“Many people have had it tougher. We are very conscious of what we represent.
“[I want to compliment] the Springbok set piece and game management.”
Man of the Match: Finn Russell gave the B&I Lions a big attacking boost when he replaced Dan Biggar. However, the award goes to Cheslin Kolbe, who scored a magnificent try. He also kept the pressure on the Lions under the high ball and played scrumhalf when Reianch was in the rucks.
Moment of the match: There was Cheslin Kolbe’s magnificent try in the 55th minute. There was also Trevor Nyakane winning a crucial scrum penalty when his team was camped on his line. However, it has to go to Morne Steyn kicking the winning points just like he did 12 years ago.
Villain: No one. It was a good contest.
For South Africa:
Pens: Pollard 2, Steyn 2
For B&I Lions:
Pens: Russell 3
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Damian Willemse.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Elliot Daly
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
AFP & @rugby365com